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"People Will Remember"

As long as I can remember, my father was always writing something. Wherever he went, he had a pen and a pad close by. As he spent time reading the scriptures each morning, you would also find him jotting down his thoughts or something he was working through. Writing was an integral part of his daily life.

For those who really knew my father, they would all agree that he had an active mind. He had this uncanny ability to size up any situation in just a short amount of time, and then come up with a creative solution. Actually, he thrived on being in the center of a "storm." He loved a great challenge. The words "can't," "cannot," or "impossible" were never in his vocabulary. He had a "can-do" attitude. Always hopeful for a great outcome, he imbued optimism and confidence which, in turn, gave hope to all who were around him. In fact, his attitude was so contagious that he affected entire teams and organizations.

I vividly remember one particular project he was working on. Everyone on his team basically gave up. After several years of working on the concept, they concluded the idea was impossible and, therefore, futile to continue on. My father, on the other hand, was the only one who chose not to give up. Believing there was still an ounce of hope left, he did what he always did - reflect and write. As each new idea came to his mind, he wrote it down. There was something to his process that helped him brainstorm and dream far beyond what others were willing to do. All I can say he that he did the unthinkable and found a unique solution. And because of his tenacious spirit, the company idea succeeded and still exists today.

I've concluded that my father's ability to write tremendously helped him with his ability to work through some of his greatest challenges. He had a mind like I've never seen in anyone before. Ideas seemed to always be at his disposal. Maybe that's why many leaders sought him for his consulting services.

But there is something else I find even more significant about my father's writing: his ability to edit and re-edit. Just because he had lots of ideas didn't mean they were all good (and I know he would attest to that). It's one thing to have visions and lofty dreams, but it's an entirely different thing when you can take that dream and clearly articulate it in just one sentence. His ideas went through a rigorous editing process, one of reshaping and refinement. In fact, if he didn't spend as much time as he did on writing his thoughts down, I'm not sure he would have been able to accomplish some of the things he did.

Because of his ongoing editing, he would often ask me if I could retype his notes so he had a hard copy to work on. It was always a pleasure to help my father out. But I do confess that I quickly became frustrated after getting the 4th, 5th, 6th, and sometimes 7th revision of the same document. I could not understand why he couldn't get it "right" after a few drafts. Wasn't it overkill to keep rewording practically the same thing over and over again? Did it really matter to the one reading it? Would anyone notice the difference?

Today, as I look over my shoulder and observe my father's endless hours of writing and rewriting, I see that he was teaching me a valuable lesson. With all the edits he made even with my own drafts, he was instilling me something that would shape my life now - the art of capturing your thoughts and communicating them clearly.

Ironically, I now practice his model of discovery, in particular, with my web designs and writings. Whatever time is necessary to communicate my ideas and thoughts clearly, I'll make that time. It's that important to me.

Just the other day, I had a wonderful conversation with one of my mentors. Having almost 30 years as a professional graphic designer and receiving several national ADDY Awards (arguably the world's largest and most toughest advertising awards), he has an amazing "eye" for design. With any of my work, I've sought his feedback and, on every occasion, he has always helped refine my work, only making me better as a professional.

I recently shared with him the process I went through with one of my most recent projects. I told him that I spent over two weeks coming-up with several unique designs and felt very good with all of them. However, there was something within me that still didn't feel right. I couldn't pin-point what it was; I just knew it wasn't complete and I didn't want to show it to the client yet. I decided to step away from the project for about a week. Finally, I sat down and started with a blank canvas. Within four hours, I came up with a totally different look. And, of all the designs I created, the client chose that piece.

My writings go through a similiar process. Whenever I have an idea, I immediately write it down or store it on my computer. I've quickly learned that whenever you have an idea or thought, if you don't write it down, you'll forget it. How many times have you had a distinct thought and later on forgot what it was? I could almost kick myself for not writing down some of the things I was thinking about in the past. Now, whenever I get a thought, I like to capture them immediately. If you don't capture them when they're available to you, you'll quickly lose them. Even with a busy schedule, you can still take a moment and write an idea down. You just never know what gold you'll mine from it.

Suggestion: It wasn't too long ago that my father handed me a Christmas gift, a gift from both my parents. When I opened it, I noticed what seemed like an open wallet. It was designed to hold index cards or something of that size. In my wallet, I found two index cards with verses my dad selected. He told me he thought it would be good to have theses verses with me wherever I went. He also shared that I could write down my thoughts even when I was "on-the-go." Although I never used the gift then, I now carry this item in my back pocket. Why? So I can read those verses my father chose for me, and capture my thoughts. Just remember - your ideas could impact a life or, it could transform a nation. Don't limit yourself.